Laurier’s summer overhaul

Throughout the summer, various places on campus have been receiving a makeover, not only to look and feel more comfortable for students, but to address an issue that Wilfrid Laurier University is currently facing: rapid growth.

Along with planned new buildings such as the Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) building that will replace St. Michael’s campus, the university, as well as the Wilfrid Laurier University Student’s Union (WLUSU), have renovated their public spaces on campus to address this issue of growth.

“Most of these renovations [are done] to accommodate growth and to improve the concourse and the Student’s Union’s student areas,” said Mark Detwieller, manager of planning, design and construction at WLU.

The Concourse is one of the main areas that the university is currently working on to create a more comfortable study environment.

“It’s basically just refreshing up the space; new flooring, new paint, all new furniture,” explained Mike Welk, project coordinator of renovations and construction. He also noted that, since almost every student owns a laptop computer, there will be more electrical outputs and improved Internet connectivity.

“In any new student spaces we are renovating the wireless with high density hubs and as many [electrical] receptacles that we can fit into the space and the budget.”

Both Detwieller and Welk assure that study areas on campus will have stronger Internet connections. They also added that outlets have been added around the dining hall.

Along with the renovations in the concourse, the university is also planning on moving a number of services, such as human resources, marketing and public affairs, WLU press and physical resources to the office on 255 King. Also, the president and the administrative staff are moving from the Peter’s building to 202 Regina.

The freed up space will be used for faculty offices and study spaces to accommodate the 1200 first-year business students that will be flooding the Peter’s building in the fall.

WLUSU projects

WLUSU’s largest project, which is nearly completed, was the complete overhaul of the Fred Nichols Campus Centre’s (FNCC) third floor, including the Two-Four Lounge.

Nick Gibson, president and CEO of WLUSU, explained that the decision to renovate the floor was “two-fold”. The newly refurbished WLUSU offices have adopted an open-concept, which will consist of open cubicles rather than closed offices, something Gibson feels will offer a more productive work environment.

As for students, according to Gibson, and WLUSU general manager Mike McMahon the renovated space will benefit students greatly.

“I think it’s just a space that students can use in a lot more effective way. A lot more students can come up in capacity wise, I think that’s the biggest thing,” explained Gibson. “This campus is desperate for space, so we have to use the space we do have in the most effective and efficient way, and I think that we accomplished that with this project.”

The new additions to the floor include group study rooms that will be suitable for about six students per room, more study space because of the re-location of campus clubs and Foot Patrol, energy efficient bathrooms and added electrical outlets.

Gibson noted that the group study rooms will be non-bookable and will work on a first-come, first-served basis, but WLUSU will change that if conflicts occur.
Along with the third floor FNCC project, WLUSU is building an interactive kiosk called the Union Desk across from Wilf’s and International News — which will replace the C-Spot.

The numbers

The budget for the concourse was estimated around $300, 000. According to Welk, 60 per cent of it was funded by the Student Life Levy fund, where the rest was funded by the student affairs office.

For the WLUSU projects, the budget for the third floor of the FNCC, as approved by the 2010-11 board of directors, was nearly $600,000. The union desk on the second floor was budgeted at $100,000.
McMahon, however, stated that with the union desk “there has been amendments to it already, [the budget] is way beyond what was required to achieve the space.” As a result, the construction of the kiosk may be cheaper than expected.

The process

Both the university and WLUSU have said that the renovations and construction projects have been going fairly well.

“More or less, we’ve haven’t had any huge hiccups. We’re obviously coming up to August here, but we only have a few weeks left before school starts,” said Welk. “But I think everything has been on time, where we stand today.”

For the Two-Four Lounge, Gibson said, “It was actually smoother than I thought it would be. There were some issues when it came to walls. The campus is pretty old, and sometimes we can run into some issues such as asbestos, and we did run into that.”

Gibson stated that the asbestos was contained and removed safely by the proper authorities. He also added that the affected area was remote and the issue is common in older buildings.

WLUSU has run into a bit of an issue with the construction of the Foot Patrol office on the first floor of the FNCC. According to Gibson, the initial design — which was done by another party, not WLUSU or the university — did not reach fire code.

Amendments will be made to the design, and Gibson hopes to have the office to be open some point in the early months of the school year. “It’s a bit of a hassle,” said Gibson.

All the projects are expected to be completed by mid to late August, just in time for students to return.

Construction and renovation of the Terrace and International News will begin this week or next, and the demolition of St. Michael’s campus will happen this fall.

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